“Danse Macabre” – Camille Saint-Saens

Below is the lesson for “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns.

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A symphonic poem based off the French superstition, “Dance of Death”; in which Death appears at midnight every Halloween calling forth the dead from their graves to dance for him while he plays his fiddle. This arrangement is a haunting fury of technique and dynamic expression; as such, this is a piece that I would recommend for the advanced fingerstyle player.

As this piece is in 6/8, keep in mind that we will be counting the rhythms as if they were twice the value. For example, a quarter note would be read as a half note. If this is a new concept to you, I will be further demonstrating and explaining it in the part 1 lesson.

The layout of this classical piece is quite simple, we have an Intro, which is then followed by 4 Themes. The Intro and Theme 3 have a more sparse rhythmic feel, while Themes 1, 2 and 4 are predominantly a busy burst of sixteenth note (counted as eighth notes) runs. To conquer these runs with efficiency, I’d encourage you to use picado technique (as taught in our lesson on, “La Gitanita“). For the rest of the piece, I’d recommend using a mix between a 3 and 4 fingerpicking approach.

Part 1 – Performance & Free Lesson

Part 2 – For Premium Members


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